Misha Glenny’s, The Fall of Yugoslavia: The Third Balkan War is a book that gives an account of the events that led to the Yugoslavian conflict. In the book, Glenny gives a detailed account of his interaction with the Balkans and this provides a basis for understanding the origin of the hostile community. The setting of the book begins in Knin, a strategic city in Croatia, where Glenny’s focus on the town’s symbolic landmarks.
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The landmarks act as a useful gateway in understanding the ethnic history of the town’s population. In the book, Glenny attempts to unfold the political, chronological, and cultural factors resulting in desolation in Balkan (Glenny, 1996). The contemporary accounts of the author and his travels through the controversies that consumed Yugoslavia calls for intelligent reading. This paper will focus on a part of the book that I found informative.
Misha Glenny’s book is quite informative, especially in the last chapters. Having recently finished reading the book, I am left with mixed feelings concerning the book. For instance, while reading the first chapters of the book, I had the intuition that the book is sloppily written, subjective, and unorganized. The impression that the book is fundamentally a mere account of the author’s personal experience in Yugoslavia could not stop clicking my mind.
However, I found the last chapters of the book surprisingly informative with clear, smartly written, and above all absorbing information. It is in this part of the book that Glenny puts the devastation and brutality described in the first chapters into some form of the chronological and political context. It is also in this part that Glenny draws on his knowledge of the Yugoslavian Conflict by formulating a rational and intelligent view of the tragedy. At this point, the author pulls no punches in judging any of the conflict partakers especially the western countries whose intrusion he says made the conflict worse (Glenny, 1996).
It is in the last part of the book that Glenny gives an absorbing and informative description of the political and chronological concepts used earlier in the book. This part of the book is well written and engaging with deep descriptions and good analysis. For instance, the section talking of Kosovo is quite insightful and conceptual since it provides a context to the incidents, which occurred in the town in 1999. Glenny at this part of the book makes use of his experience in providing an analysis of a condition that would later be sadly predictive (Glenny, 1996).
It is also in the last chapter that the author examines the behavior of Yugoslav’s political leaders and the effect of intrusion by the western states. At this point, Glenny does not overlook the role played by the Germans and openly blames the western nations for their irresponsibility in handling the conflict. Glenny finally states that all the involved nations had valid reasons to protect their interests (Glenny, 1996).
Glenny sums up the book by stating, “Our understanding of the war in the Balkans has been clouded by the tendencies of many witnesses to confuse the moral questions raised by the conflict with the political issues that caused it” (Glenny, 1996 p.183). This made me understand the issues that led to the Balkan War. It is also in this last chapter that the author improves his style of writing. For instance, while giving an image of the monster population. Glenny says, “life revived faster in Mostar than almost anywhere else in BIH after the war”(Glenny, 1996 p.160). This personal style of writing makes Glenny’s work credible hence making the story more engaging.
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Glenny in this part also illustrates how Greece strongly opposed Macedonian nationalism, which caused unexpected political and financial damage to the nation. At this point, I did not get the history behind Greece’s opposition and since the author does not talk about it, I was just left with the option of trusting his judgment that “Greeks prefer to prolong the misery of Macedonia” (Glenny, 1996 p.170). It is also clear that in the last chapter, Glenny strengthens his work through fluid writing, simple description skills, and balanced perspectives.
The stream of headings about death and devastation in Bosnia-Herzegovina has made the last part of the book informative. Though I did not recognize the author’s darker fears while reading the book, this did not distract me from understanding what the author was trying to share. The author’s passion for the naïve civilians caught during the conflict of the aggressive nationalist rules of Milosevic, Tuđman, and Karadzic is realized in the last part of the book. The story of Yugoslavs who wish for peace with their fellow citizens takes on the extra concern. It is through the final part of the book that I realized that the Yugoslavs had fallen foul of the hatred resulting from the abuse of culture (Glenny, 1996).
Misha Glenny in the last part of the book exhibits an extraordinary quality for a western viewer of the Yugoslav conflict. He recognizes people’s customs, history, and habits with no prejudice. His account of the initial days of the tragedy is a good starting point for a person wishing to rise above the real facts present in other books.
In the last part of the book, Glenny skillfully discusses the errors that the international community made in their attempt to solve the conflict. He further makes some precise predictions and warnings and explains his concern on Macedonia. This part provides an interesting account of the forces, which resulted in the Balkan war. This part is quite neutral since though Glenny is appalled by the crimes that occurred, he does not even try to list the atrocities he saw (Glenny, 1996).
My problem with the introductory part of the book is that it involves an unpredictable guide to events with no coherent structure. This made me feel like I am presented with several war incidents, without knowledge of their historical or political concepts or even what initiated all these happenings. Since this part is written as a continuing account, I had to struggle to keep on reading which was quite boring. However, the tenacity and ability created by the author especially in this part made me have more interest in reading the book.
Misha Glenny’s, The Fall of Yugoslavia: The Third Balkan War is the best book on the Yugoslavian conflict. The book excels due to its ability to give the reader a full feeling of what happened during the Balkan war. I personally believe that the last part of the book is informative compared to the introductory part.
Glenn, M. (1996). The fall of Yugoslavia: The third Balkan war. London: Penguin Books.